Selma quarterback Jesse Harris (12) tries to get past Saraland’s Chapman Blakeney (22) during Friday’s game at Memorial Stadium. -- Robert Hudson

Saints fall one yard, three points shy in loss

Published 2:03am Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Selma Saints were just one yard away from knocking off the Saraland Spartans, but an incomplete pass on fourth down with 11 seconds to play secured a 24-21 victory for Saraland Friday at Memorial Stadium.

Leroy Miles, head football coach of Selma (1-5, 0-4 Class 5A-Region 3), said his team gave its all, and his hat goes off to Saraland.

“The kids fought hard, and they’re hurt, they’re a little down about losing and they know they fought hard. They laid it on the line,” Miles said. “We told them at halftime that we needed to win the third quarter. We didn’t score, but they didn’t score either, so that’s a win for us. And it gave us an opportunity to get some confidence and move the ball. Our team is getting better.”

After Saraland (4-2, 3-1 Class 5A-Region 3), took a 24-21 lead on a 30-yard field goal by Cole Travis with 4:29 left to play, Selma had one more shot to win after a defensive stop forced a Spartans’ punt that put the Saints at their own 10-yard line with 2:16 left to play.

Selma moved its way forward to its own 24-yard line until 3rd-and-10 where quarterback Jesse Harris hit Darrius Hawkins on a middle screen, as he then proceeded to slash through the defense for 48 yards down to the Spartans’ 28-yard line.

The very next play, Harris rolled out to the right sideline and raced in for a 28-yard touchdown run, appearing to give the Saints the lead with little over a minute left to play, but a block in the back penalty negated the play.

Harris took advantage of a dropped interception by Saraland’s Grant Copeland that would have sealed the game, as he found teammate Jeromi Davis on the next play for 28-yard pass that put the Saints at the Spartans’ 4-yard line with 52 seconds left to play.

The Spartans’ defense held strong, keeping the Saints out of the end zone for three plays, but Selma had one more chance at the Saraland 1-yard line with 12 seconds left to play.

After a pair of quarterback sneaks the previous two plays, the Spartans’ defense stacked the middle expecting a run on 4th-and-goal, but the Harris tried to throw a dump pass to his tight end Deondis Mendenhall that went just past the receiver’s out-stretched arm and fell incomplete, sealing the victory for Saraland.

Harris had two touchdown passes on the night, which came on the first plays of the Saints’ first two offensive possessions.

The first touchdown came on the game’s first play from scrimmage as Selma quarterback Achilles Rutledge pitched to a running back who handed the ball to Harris on a reverse.

Harris then threw it to a wide-open Jamund Martin for a 61-yard touchdown to give the Saints a 7-0 lead early after the extra point.

After forcing a Saraland fumble, the Saints came out on the next play and Harris found Davis for a 33-yard touchdown pass that put Selma ahead 13-0 with 9:50 left in the first quarter.

Selma tied the game early in the fourth quarter after falling behind 21-13 at halftime, as running back Adam Bruno scored on an 18-yard run.

Harris found Earnest Gunn on a short pass on the 2-point attempt, tying the game at 21-21.

Selma will take the field again Friday, Oct. 12 at home against region-foe Greenville, with kickoff at 7 p.m.

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